Today Denmark and Bulgaria enjoy a prosperous partnership of mutual trust and respect.

We continue to build on this relationship as we celebrate 90 years of diplomatic relations in 2021. Our two countries share a common framework, as both are part of the European Union and NATO. Inter-state trade has increased significantly in recent years although the pandemic has had an effect on this activity. However, there is still a lot of potential for collaboration to be utilised through Danish-Bulgarian partnerships.

The story of mutual recognition between Denmark and Bulgaria began when King Frederik VIII (great-grandfather of H. M. Queen Margrethe II) of Denmark handed over the Order of the Elephant - the highest-ranking order in Denmark - to H. M. King Ferdinand I in 1910 to pay his respect to the Bulgarian monarch. The establishment ofdiplomatic relations between Denmark and Bulgaria followed when Erik Adolf Biering, posted in Belgrade, was accredited to Bulgaria in 1931. In 1957, Bulgaria accredited Marko Temnialov, based in Stockholm, to Denmark. The first resident ambassador in Sofia, Klaus Otto Kappel, took up his post in 1990, which marked a new era for the Danish-Bulgarian relationship after the years of the Cold War characterised by different priorities in the sphere of foreign affairs. Slowly, but confidently Danes and Bulgarians developed a broader mutual understanding. This progress evolved further when Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007. Today Bulgaria is not so foreign to Danes anymore and there is an increasing awareness of its rich culture and beautiful nature.

Although Denmark and Bulgaria lie far away from each other and have had different priorities throughout the years, there are certain areas, where the two countries are very much alike. It is not widely known that Denmark and Bulgaria are the only two European countries, which saved their Jewish population during the Second World War. While especially Danish fishermen succeeded in hiding around 7.000 Jews transporting them to the Swedish border, King Boris III of Bulgaria avoided the deportation of approximately 50.000 Jews from Bulgaria. With the support of the Orthodox Church in Bulgaria, King Boris III managed to delay the deportation process several times while refraining from signing a document that would hand over the Jews to Nazi Germany. This way of resistance resonates with the Danish efforts to rescue the Jews from being sent to concentration camps and Denmark is proud to share this piece of history with Bulgaria.

The diplomatic relationship of Denmark and Bulgaria has been strengthened further through official visits. During the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the first half of 2018, many Danish ministers paid a visit to Sofia including the Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen and the Minister of Foreign Affairs Anders Samuelsen.

A very special highlight is the official state visit of H. M. Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and the Prince Consort to Bulgaria in the year 2000. The Royal family was accompanied by Minister of Foreign Affairs Niels Helveg Petersenand and a business delegation. An important part of the visit was the official opening of the new building of the Embassy of Denmark in Sofia at 54 Dondukov Blvd.

At the invitation of Her Majesty, Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov returned a visit to Copenhagen in 2006.

The latest visit by the Danish Royal family took place in 2008, when the Crown Prince Couple paid an official visit to Bulgaria at the invitation of President Georgi Parvanov. The Crown Prince and the Crown Princess were shown the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia and the Troyan Monastery among other things. We hope to continue the good tradition of exchanging high-level visits between the two countries when the pandemic situation allows it.

An excellent example of the great Danish-Bulgarian collaboration is the presence of Danish flagship companies in Bulgaria such as Novo Nordisk, Maersk, Carlsberg, Danfoss and JYSK. We are especially proud of the biggest Danish investment in Bulgaria, which is the Jysk Balkan Distribution Centre that opened in 2019 in the Bozhurishte Economic Zone near Sofia. The highly innovative facility employs around 250 people and is located on "Lars Larsen Street" named after the Danish founder of the company.

Another area, where Denmark and Bulgaria have managed to establish a flourishing cooperation is in the social sphere with social initiatives such as "Mini Art Fest", which brings contemporary circus to people from vulnerable groups or "For Our Children Foundation", which supports early childhood development.

Looking back at our mutual history of 90 years and the achievements we have reached so far, we believe that there is good reason to congratulate each other and look forward to a dynamic future of strong bilateral relations between Denmark and Bulgaria.

The photo was provided by the Embassy of the Kingdom of Denmark to the Republic of Bulgaria. On it: H. E. Mr. Søren Jacobsen, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of Denmark to the Republic of Bulgaria